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Church Denies Being Anti-Gay After Starbucks CEO Cancels Speech

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File Photo Of Starbucks Store Interior (AP Photo)

File Photo Of Starbucks Store Interior (AP Photo)

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SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) — The pastor of South Barrington-based Willow Creek Community Church disputes claims made in an online petition which prompted the head of Starbucks to cancel a speaking engagement at a church-sponsored event.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz was supposed to speak Friday at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. But after an online petition claimed Willow Creek is anti-gay, Schultz backed out of the commitment.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Senior Pastor Rev. Bill Hybels told 8,000 people at the conference Thursday that Willow Creek is not anti-gay, the Daily Herald reported. But the church’s official position does indicate a disapproval of same-sex relationships, in accordance with Biblical ethics.

That means sex is to be reserved between a man and a woman, regardless of their orientation, and those who are not married are to be abstinent and celibate, the Daily Herald explained.

Two years ago, Willow Creek cut ties with Exodus International, which claims to help gays change their orientation heterosexuality via “reparative therapy.”

The petition discouraging Schultz from speaking at Willow Creek acknowledged that the church had severed ties with Exodus International, but “in doing so stated that it wasn’t a change in belief but a change in focus.” The petition also claims that the church has “‘outreach’ programs to the LGBT community to spread their anti-LGBT message.”

But to show he bears no ill will to Schultz, Hybels recommended that people read Schultz’s book, Onward, and buy some Starbucks Coffee, the Daily Herald reported.

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